At the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA19) stood at 86.7%, compared with 88.1% at the end of the third quarter of 2017, according to Eurostat. Likewise, in the EU28, the ratio also decreased from 82.4% to 81.6%. The decrease was more pronounced when compared on an annual basis. For the euro area, government debt as a percentage of GDP fell by 2.3% from 89.0% (2016) fourth quarter to 86.7% (2017) fourth quarter; the broader EU 28 area experienced a decrease of 1.7% from 83.3% fourth quarter 2016 to 81.6% fourth quarter 2017.
At the end of the fourth quarter of 2017, debt securities accounted for 80.5% of euro area and 81.4% of EU28 general government debt. Loans made up 16.5% and 14.5% respectively and currency and deposits represented 3.0% of euro area and 4.1% of EU28 government debt. Due to the involvement of EU governments in financial assistance to certain Member States, the share of intergovernmental lending in GDP at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 amounted to 2.1% in the euro area and to 1.5% in the EU28.
Government debt at the end of the fourth quarter 2017 by Member State
Compared with the third quarter of 2017, seven Member States registered an increase in their debt to GDP ratio at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 and twenty one a decrease. The highest increases in the ratio were recorded in Latvia (+1.9%), Sweden (+1.8 %), the United Kingdom (+1.5%) and Greece (+1.2%). The largest decreases were recorded in Cyprus (-5.0%), Slovenia and Portugal (both -4.9%), Ireland (-4.0%) and Belgium (-3.8%).
When compared with the fourth quarter of 2016, only two Member States registered an increase in their debt to GDP ratio at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 and twenty six a decrease. Increases in the ratio were recorded in Luxembourg (+2.2%) and France (+0.4%), while the largest decreases were recorded in Cyprus (-9.1%), Malta (-5.4%), Austria (-5.1%), the Netherlands (-5.0%), Slovenia and Ireland (both -4.9%), Portugal (-4.2%) and Germany (-4.1%).
The highest ratios of government debt to GDP at the end of the fourth quarter of 2017 were recorded in Greece (178.6%), Italy (131.8%) and Portugal (125.7%), and the lowest in Estonia (9.0%), Luxembourg (23.0%) and Bulgaria (25.4%).
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